power imbalance between social worker and client
In the above discussion it was indicated that there are two basic notions of power: power as capacity - one's ability to produce change; and power as exercised - one's doing or saying something, and changing or trying to change a situation. anal dilation techniques, that all other considerations fell by the way. Susan tells Roberta how gorgeous the baby is. Workers so often having to stand contributed to an atmosphere that felt like they had not properly settled into the visit. Many adults in therapy bestow great power onto their therapists. For example, therapists need to learn about the peoples cultures they will be counselling. Susan has a powerful tone of helpfulness in her voice, really encouraging Roberta to accept help and conveying the genuineness of the offer. Meanwhile the independent social worker who completed the pre-birth parenting assessment related to the mother as a good object and could see nothing of the danger others were preoccupied with. It remains open whether they inspire contradiction in the reader or find confirmation. Professionals and families were only shadowed and interviewed if they gave informed consent. The social worker is very emotionally flat. This involves the researcher staying close to participants experience and writing in ways that intertwine events and emotions as they were experienced in real time, ensuring accounts of practice maintain their aliveness (Holway, Citation2015, p. 123). It is a resource not only of information but of a power/knowledge; that is, knowledge which is the basis of a pre-set agenda of how the social worker can deal with the now labeled 'difficult' client. In Month 3 of being shadowed, there was yet another incident of the father being found to be in the home, despite being told he was too big a risk to be there, and the social worker Rebecca made a home visit: Although there was a polite greeting there is an intense atmosphere. Power differences based on unequal professional status are an example of the latter. The combination of tradition and the set of rules produce and maintain a regime of appropriate modes of performance, and obedience to these gives assurance to others that one is co-operative and compliant, and not anti-social. In fact she does not actually properly meet the baby at all in the sense of going up to her and attuning to her by, for instance, looking into her eyes, making noises. One student stated: Working in partnership with the client, the social worker can rely on his or her professional power to influence the organization/agency in the best interest of the client. Professional power can be used to connect the client to support structures and networks outside of the client's current resources. To find a therapist, please visit the Psychology Today Therapy Directory. Fiedler speaks of "dialogues free of domination", of " selfless help", thinking "thus of areas in which power actually has no place" (Fiedler 2002, p. 1). The first home visit was done by the team manager, Olivia, due to the social worker Susans unavailability. Wicked uses of power were legitimated through recording and acceptance of certain types of judgement about people. To the worker she seemed to be merely an appendage to her mother. In the nurse-patient relationship, nurses hold a position of power by virtue of having: professional knowledge and skills that patients rely on for their well Power is denied. Although Susan had some telephone contact with Roberta, she had not yet met her face to face and it would be another two months before she does. Social workers told us they were aware of this dynamic and the need to, as they put it, get down to the service users level, which (it was assumed) would create a greater sense of equality in the relating and enable conversation to flow, which was why they crouched for as long as they could physically bear it. At this level no-one is named and made responsible; what is written down has the appearance of being objective, official and even truthful. And straight away ((makes hitting noise)). Heidegger, M. (1996) Being and Time translated by Joan Stambaugh, State University of New York Press, Albany, NY. Niklas Luhmann, as a systems theorist, understands power rather as a symbolically generalized communication medium and thus means the possibility of selecting an alternative for others by one's own decision and thus reducing complexity (cf. There are only people with various educations, skills, abilities, knowledge bases, social/political positions, and degrees of wealth. The more opportunities workers have to reflect on and analyse their feelings and relationships with involuntary clients, the less chance there is they will become hostile relationships and the surer they can be that their work and major decisions (including to remove children) will be done ethically and free from hate and retaliation. Social workers always undertook joint visits and the 11 encounters we observed were characterised by anger, acrimony and frustration. By demanding help that is due to him, a client also possesses and exercises power. You can feel the anger coming off him, anger with Rebecca and her manager for how he feels hes being described, anger with Angela for seeking to go back to court and complaining no one helps him. For example, if I as a social worker am charged with determining a client's need, I have power in doing so through my existing discretionary powers. workers, and to advance sound social policies. Because Robertas two children were not in her care, it was treated as an Unborn referral and not urgent. This is an example of power in discourse. (In brief, "transference" is the displacement and redirection of feelings usually arising in childhood, and most often held for one's parents, onto one's therapist). %%EOF
The longest home visit to Roberta Dixon lasted 45minutes and was the very first, as Roberta angrily sought explanations for why social care needed to be involved. Olivia is good at asking Roberta to help her fill it in it is an attempt to involve her in the process and address power imbalances. Interestingly, some people take comfort in the perception that their therapists have some special mental might or psychological power like a benevolent parent has over a child. The parents attempted to take charge by interrupting, shouting and making accusations that social workers are untruthful, inconsistent, hypocritical and in cahoots with other professionals. The atmosphere feels incredibly tense. WebThe imbalance of power in the CPS-parent relationship is a central aspect of the relation-ship. S/he's got the clients cards marked. Negative qualities of workers identified by parents were being judgmental, cold and uncaring, poor listeners, critical, and insincere. However, what is mostly absent from the literature is attention to what involuntary relationships look and feel like in practice and how they are actually conducted in real time. People also read lists articles that other readers of this article have read. The initial couple of home visits by Olivia after mother and baby went home were quite harmonious, as the following typical scene illustrates: Roberta talks about how she has changed as a person she was only 16 when she had [first child]. The central aspect of this work will be the handling of professional power in social work. The power social workers have to intervene into peoples lives must be understood in terms of the lack of social power and status service users typically have. Roberta is much louder and really dominates the room. As many professions and organizations are doing, we must pause to look inward and use that knowledge to propel us toward action for meaningful social change. In less formally unequal situations, e.g. Here Susan was meeting Amy for the first time and while she made genuine efforts to recognise the babys presence, she did not get physically close to her, which we had observed her doing on visits to other infants. However, some relationships in social work are not like that but are transacted through mistrust, fear, hostility and even hate. This lack of acknowledgment deepens one's despair. This can be explained, in part, by how uncomfortable workers felt in the home having to face such anger and aggression (see also, Henderson, Citation2018; Sudland, Citation2020). She told us she took pleasure in their discomfort. It has sought to convey the lived experience of being involved in such casework, the struggles over space and the rights service users have, or dont have, to refuse professionals access to their lives, the tactics of resistance that get played out and the deep emotional effects of such work. Also, he does not make any restriction regarding possible means or criteria of power. Social care then began to worry about an apparent downturn in Robertas mental health and other agencies also expressed concerns about her well-being and capacity to care well enough for Amy. Roberta is cooking. 3.2 Facing powerlessness, 4. The parents Ron and Angela didnt like it, but it enabled the worker to see the children with whom she had a good relationship. Webpower imbalance between the worker and the client resulting in client vulnerability and the undermining of freedom to consent. WebThe power imbalance can become exploitative when practitioners who are members of a dominant culture devalue the client's own values and perceptions. The surprising reasons behind this common conflict and tips to restore harmony. We have been lied to actually from social services, blatant lies to our face so there is definitely no trust or anything there. The persistent stigmatising of the poor and of black and minority ethnic communities make them into marginalised others who provoke fear and contempt (Tyler, Citation2020). Amy is in a car seat under the sink in the gap where a dishwasher or washing machine usually goes. So we have to be extremely careful in what we write down as it will live on after us, affecting other perceptions, and how social workers use their powers in their treatment of a client. But this is not enough: if we can change human behavior and interaction we may also change how humans relate to both their human and physical environments. Concluding theses on possibilities and limits for a responsible use of professional power conclude my remarks in the last chapter. I mean, you know, there I am talking about that emotion at the beginning of the supervision, half way through Im talking about, right, how are you going to a get a grip with this member of staff? Its quite tough to balance. the chair of a case conference), position (e.g. If this is the case, it cuts across the oft-heard injunction for social workers to 'start from where the client is'. 29 0 obj
Many, perhaps most, uses of power in social work are intended to produce good ends, but this should not obscure the most important point that they are nevertheless uses of power, and as such, as a matter of good practice and not mere theoretical whim, should be critically evaluated. This splitting into love and hate was also evident in Robertas narratives when interviewed for the research as she expressed her complete admiration for the independent social worker and her intense dislike of the statutory social workers, Olivia in particular. Against this view we can say that a person may act or refrain from acting because s/he anticipates what others could or would do if s/he did or omitted to do a certain action. Much greater awareness of spatial dynamics is required and the value of seeing service users in places beyond the home, at least some of the time (Jeyasingham, Citation2013). In Schlter's book "Sozialphilosophie fr helfende Berufe" (Social Philosophy for the Helping Professions), power is understood in a broader sense as a capacity for realization, and social work and power are brought into a direct relationship. Many of the parents in the study began by disliking, fearing and even hating social workers. Hypervigilant people constantly monitor for threats and brace for worst-case scenarios. This move is engineered by the social worker who leads the way despite Roberta saying there are no seats in the sitting-room. Following the work of Klein (Citation1946) there is evidence of psychological splitting occurring here, which is a defence mechanism for dealing with intense anxiety and other unbearable feelings. While the above examples illustrate how social workers may consciously channel their anger into challenging parents, the danger is that they unconsciously return the hate service users have projected into them and become punitive but are not aware of it. More minimally, one's knowing that one is exercising power, i.e. Exploring communication between social workers, children and young people. The sequence of procedures which constitute a risk assessment are highly routinized, following a standard procedure. We had no way of knowing at the outset how long the 30 cases (15 at each site) we sampled would be open for and in the event 12 were shadowed for the full 12months, one for eleven and 22 were shadowed for at least eight months. Research in psychology is now showing that the colors of walls, carpets and furniture and the layout of a room can affect our mood, feelings and how we behave. I wasnt given the opportunity for them to understand me properly, I have been to meetings with them and I was told that we can only read out what is important but we dont want to hear from you. Connect with your NASW Chapter to find local action groups leading the way on achieving equity. NASW also seeks to enhance the well-being of individuals, families, and communities through its advocacy. In their encounters with families, social care staff brought with them a highly pressurised organisational space which made maintaining a capacity to think analytically about what was occurring in their relationships with service users very challenging, especially at unconscious levels. She tries to gain control of the meeting. The capacity to effect changes, bar nature's capacity, e.g. There is in fact a settee and other chair but they are covered in stuff, so Olivia and Susan remain on their feet and stand for the entirety of the visit. I would want to reject this 'realist' view which says that only power is exercised is real power. Register a free Taylor & Francis Online account today to boost your research and gain these benefits: Psychotherapeutic Approaches in Health, Welfare and the Community, Hostile relationships in social work practice: anxiety, hate and conflict in long-term work with involuntary service users, a Department of Social Work and Social Care, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, UK, b Department of Social Work, Education & Community Wellbeing, C115, Coach Lane Campus, Northumbria University, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK, c B6 Law and Social Sciences, University of Nottingham, Nottingham, UK, d Department of Sociology, Lancaster University, Lancaster UK, e School of Counselling, Human Services and Social Work, Te Kura Tauwhiro Tangata, Faculty of Education and Social Work, University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand. What I learned from my rabbit about intimate relationships. She sort of laughs dismissively when she looks at things. in the form of the authority or the office. Furthermore, forms of power are differentiated in the literature; this leads, for example, to distinctions between power to act, power to define, or power to limit. Due to the large size of each case-study and the insights they give into the detail of practice the paper is focused around a small number of cases. It is very possible that the nature and style of the social work surveillance contributed to the worsening of Robertas well-being and it certainly contributed to her reactions to professionals. A case study method was adopted by bringing together all the data on each case and this provided 30 very detailed case studies of long-term social work practice. The presence of the object has an aura of insistence of its own reality. Roberta questions the history of drug use [even though she did agree earlier that she had a history of drug use]. social workers negotiating with other workers or professionals, the use of disciplinary strategies is not so evident. Power imbalance may affect joint work. Further on I shall argue that social work is much in the business of using normalization strategies and this of deploying disciplinary power. Such pressures made giving children and families the full attention they needed and maintaining a capacity to think clearly about them and the dynamics of the relationship enormously difficult. With Roberta Dixon, for instance, some critical thinking and use of good authority by practitioners could have resulted in clear the air conversations and firm but respectful requests to clear seats to enable them to sit down and an overall much more open, negotiated approach (Ferguson, Citation2011, chapter 12). 800-742-4089, Political Action for Candidate Election (PACE). getting someone to do an action or fulfil a task they would not otherwise have done; or mental change, i.e. (1985) Michel Foucault: The Freedom of Philosophy Columbia University Press, New York. Given the inherent power imbalance between social workers and their clients, social workers maintain During such assessments social workers often feel contradictory pressures. awareness that one is using a capacity with the intention to change matters, is a way of establishing that power is being exercised. Professionals are liable to retaliate and throw some bombs of their own into relationships and are involved in a struggle not to be hateful and punitive towards the service user. Intimacy helps you feel connected in your relationship. It is striking how these two colleagues wound themselves up into a kind of frenzy about Robertas dangerousness, including imagining and enacting the whack! of her assaulting the baby. In working with on-going hostility, social workers face huge challenges in maintaining their professionalism by having empathy for service users fears and not retaliating. Still in some states of America there are laws which prohibit certain types of sexual acts. All of the experiences so far have been very bad and they keep coming round and saying, well, we are here to help.
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